Updated: May 6
My baby boy - Whisky.....Please remember when reading this I am not claiming to be a qualified expert on the subject, simply sharing my personal research, knowledge and experiences to inform and entertain.
Often considered the loveable clowns of the dog world, Frenchies were bred as companion dogs, with their delightfully unmistakable bat-ears and quirky looks - I think they are truly beautiful. They are highly intelligent, courageous and somewhat mischievous providing much entertainment and laughter to their Pawrents. Being quite wilful (#stubborn) in nature they require Pawrents that are patient, firm and consistent yet loving at the same time
There are conflicting stories as to the true origin of the French Bulldog as a registered breed, but to my mind the tracing back to the British origins during the industrial revolution, where the miniature British Bulldogs (some with bat ears) accompanied the Nottingham lace makers to France (Brittany) for work. The French fell in love with them and demand increased creating a “French” variety with those signature ears. Americans in Paris brought them back to America with them where the breed really took off. Frenchies have been in Australia since the 1940s being developed from the British bloodlines probably because of the links between Australia and Britain. Frenchies are one of the most popular breeds in Paris, London and New York, and are quickly taking hold in Australia as well.
WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE…
As a brachycephalic breed they are flat faced - although not as much as in the British bulldog from which they are descended. The ears are the most noticeable difference, with the Frenchie’s bat ears standing stiffly upright with slight forward curved edges. The cartilage which holdS their ears erect begins to stiffen around 10 days. They are small, compact, and stocky in stature with an arched (roach) back, and the characteristic short undocked tail. The have a short, smooth coat traditionally in the following colours: brindle, fawn, and pied (mostly white with some black). However, some breeders have been creating “designer” colours which is thought to be highly detrimental to the health of the dog and not part of the normal confirmation standard in the breed. Adults grow to a height of 30cm with males weight in at 12.5kg and females 11kg.
For the full breed standard according to the Australian National Kennel Council , please visit the OFFICIAL FRENCH BULLDOG BREED STANDARD
NATURE AND TEMPERAMENT…
As a Frenchie Parent myself, I can tell you they are highly intelligent, vivacious, deeply affectionate and clownish. They are good with children and protective good watchdogs. They don’t bark unless there is a very good reason, and they will stand their ground if confronted by someone unfamiliar. That said, they are extremely friendly and if socialised properly they simply love everybody!
HEALTH & LIFESPAN…
Any Frechie Pawrent will tell you to get the top pet insurance - as the breed can experience a number of serious health issues (mostly back, knee, eyes, skin and breathing related), although many will not suffer them it is best to play it safe is your are thinking of adding a Frenchie to your fur family. French Bulldog’s are reportedly affected health problems associated with their conformation, including their short muzzles and wide, prominent eyes. Their predispositions include brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), dystocia, corneal ulceration, patellar luxation and a range of spinal diseases including type I intervertebral disk herniation, spinal disease associated with vertebral malformations and spinal arachnoid diverticulum. For more detail check this out:West Coast Woofers - "Juicy Steak Blog" on Frenchie Health Issues
Avoiding letting them jump down from furniture, especially when a puppy, can help minimise any issues with joints such as back problems or luxating patellas (knees).
Some breeding lines suffer more that others from and elongated soft palate (extension of the roof of the mouth) problems with signs of (BOAS) respiratory distress, very noisy breathing, decreased exercise tolerance and heavy snoring,
All French Bulldogs are very susceptible to overheating and must have shelter (preferably indoors with air-conditioning in Summer) and fresh water available at all times. They can experience serious breathing difficulties in hot weather and the use of things to keep them cool such as playing in a children’s shallow wading pool (only under your direct supervision as they can’t swim), laying on Cool Mats or wearing Cooling Bandanas can be useful.
Variation in lifespan of Frenchies is due to different breeding blood lines and high numbers of predispositions to health issues in certain ones. However, the average lifespan is between 12 - 16 years, especially if they are well cared for and look after.
GROOMING & COAT MAINTENACE…
I have read many times that Frenchie coast require minimal grooming because they rarely shed so only a soft brush or mitten brush is needed for removal of loose hairs when moulting. My personal experience is YES, Whisky has minimal grooming requirements compared to his big brother Cebar, an English Cocker Spaniel, but the rarely shedding is a big fat NO! My home, car, clothes and ME are constantly covered in “Bulldog Glitter”! This is not an issue for me but just don’t believe everything you read!
Frenchies ears, eyes and skin folds also need to be cared for and maintained since the breed is predisposed to these kinds of issues. Although not arduous - keeping things clean with non scented baby wipes and using a little organic coconut oil for protection work well for Whisky (I do his nose and pads as well).
INDOOR DOG POTENTIAL…
Frenchies were bred to be companions (lap dogs) and therefore make excellent house pets. They are considered ideal for smaller homes and appartments due to their small statute, quiteness for neighbours (little barking), their health needs require them to be indoor dogs regardless, and they reportedly shedding only small amounts of hair (but I don’t believe that one - I have Bulldog Glitter to prove it!)
TRAINING & EXERCISE
Although they can be perfectly content in an apartment with minimal room for exercise, a daily walk is good for maintaining health and fitness for any dog. This can be in a large back yard if you have one or out and about in the community. Due to their difficulties with heat stress please use common sense and don’t exercise them in the heat of the day. We take the dogs for a short walk in the morning and evening when things are cool and comfy! Many Frenchies will enjoy playing with water such as a hose or shallow wading pool, but as they can’t actually swim due to their physique without some kind of floatation life jacket, keep them away from swimming pools, lakes or the surf!
I have frequently read that Frenchies are described as being only fair in terms of their working and obedience ability. I can see the logic in them not being suitable working dogs (with their exercise and breathing issues) which they were never bred for in the first place, but in terms of obedience ability the jury is out for me. Whisky (now 18 weeks old) is the brightest little button I’ve ever come across (and I have trained dogs to Companion Titles in in Obedience Trials before who were smart dogs!), He learns things in a flash and has responded very quickly to obedience training. They say Frenchies are particularly difficult to toilet train. But Whisky was toilet trained very early, in fact even from 8 weeks old we had very few “accidents" inside the house and from about 16 weeks onwards he could be given full run of the house without any accidents what-so-ever! I did put a lot of work and consistency into training him, but he was a SUPERSTAR!
In terms of other basic training, such as sit, down, stay, wait, leave etc…..being so intelligent, you do have to stay one step ahead of him (he can be wilful sometimes), and I really have to ensure that the pack order is maintained - the BIG DOG (AKA ME) is in charge NOT him and his big brother, Cebar (my elderly cocker with a beautiful gentle nature - but not the sharpest tool in the shed) is ABOVE him in the pecking order and shall remain so - "THIS THE WAY”! "I HAVE SPOKEN" Consequently he has fitted into our family so well, and Cebar and him get on like a house on fire (Best Bros)!
Patience, firmness, consistency and positive reinforcement all pay off. This also provides Whisky with the security that the BIG DOG (or the Alpha Bitch from Hell) will always protect him, look after him, and give him the boundaries that help keep him healthy, safe and secure - that’s the job of the Alpha in any pack and he instinctively knows it and respects it. He does occasionally get threatened (sometimes daily) with being made into “bulldog soup” as he is the "John Wick" of plants, nothing lives if he sets his mind to it, or his curiosity will send him on a “seek and destroy” mission with things that are not his to chew and could potentially harm him - but the cuteness always saves him!
I have just enrolled him in puppy beginner class at JOONDALUP DOG TRAINING CLUB and have only attended our first session and he had lots of fun and love it. I feel he has the potential not only for obedience but maybe agility as well. His little brain needs lots of mental stimulation, so agility could be good for him, but obviously consideration in not over exercising him is paramount - so we shall wait and see on that one.
BEST SUITED FOR:
Frenchies have been called “velcro dogs”, they absolutely thrive on human contact, affection and companionship and are not a suitable breed to be left alone for long periods of time as they can suffer with separation anxiety (sometimes a second dog can help with this) . Likewise they are not suitable outdoor dogs left in the backyard away from their “human pack”. They are perfect for retirees, apartment dwellers where they are the fur babies, families and singles who have time to devote to a dog and treat it as another family member not a pet.
Nature & Temperament: fun loving, affectionate, loyal, courageous, quiet
Lifespan: 12-16 years
Suitable for: apartment living, living indoors, people and families with time to spend with them as companions.
For more information and expert advice on the breed, please visit the following:
If you'd like to re home a Frenchie, please contact:
FAMOUS FRENCHIE OWNERS:
Australian Actor - Hugh Jackman’s Fawn Frenchie is named Dali.
Singer - Lady Gaga has 3 Frenchies - Miss Asia (Brindle), Koji (Fawn), Gustav (Pie)
Actor - Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Pie Frenchie is called Hobbs - go figure!
Actor - Eva Longoria’s Blue Frenchie is named Popeye
Actor - Leonardo Dicaprio’s Pie Frenchie is called Django
Singer - Madona has 2 pie Frenchies, Olga and Gypsy Rosa
Celebrity - Martha Stewart had 4 but now only two - Francesca & Sharky (both now at Rainbow Bridge) and Bete (Brindle) and Creme Brûlée (Fawn)
Actress - Reece Witherspoon had 2 and added another Pepper (Brindle now waiting a Rainbow Bridge) and Lou (Fawn) then 3 weeks after Pepper passed, added little Minnie Pearl (Pie)
Actress - The late Star Wars star - Carrie Fisher’s (Princess Leah) Blue Frenchie is called Gray was always on set with her but now lives with Carrie’s former assistant, Corby McCoin